Monster in the Mirror

Chapter 52

Once everybody was situated, I nudged my Hunter into a walk: cueing the others to follow the Alpha's path. As we approached the end of the basketball court, I halted my Hunter and turned to glance at Eric, who was sitting like a king to my right. "You guys go on ahead, I have a few things to take care of. Tell Alex I'm fine and that I'll meet you at Clyde's house." I said, not really leaving room for objection as I gave the Hunter a solid kick to its ribs: making it rear up on its back legs with a screech before galloping off in the direction of my house.

Bounding over the fence, the Hunter carried me through the destroyed, zombie-infested streets while avoiding trigger-happy Blackwatch soldiers. Riding down my street, I leapt off the Hunter's back before sprinting over to my house. Growling to myself as I found the door was locked, I ran around to the back of the house and climbed up the tree and through my unlocked window.

Glancing around the room with a sad frown, I opened both Hershey's and Jake's cages before dropping a live rat into each one. Ignoring the loud squeaks as best as I could, I fed Alex's fish before walking over to my bedside table and removed my Xeno knife as well as something I had been working on for the few hours I had to spare while my parents 'tested out the sheets'. Putting the item and knife in my pocket, I gave the room a last look before walking down the stairs: where my dad was sitting on the couch without a care in the world, in fact: he was laughing his ass off while on the phone with someone I couldn't identify.

"And then-and then she got gassed! Right in the face, I swear to god! It was the funniest thing I've ever seen, I should have recorded it and sent it to you." he laughed before pausing to take a swig of his beer. "Who gives a shit what my good-for-nothing son thinks? If anything, he should be THANKING me that I cared enough to give Gentek a call: this way he could actually be a kid for Christ's sake! But no, he still won't talk and is always crying and giving me the dirtiest looks like that Torn-Condom-Accident was actually worth something, can you believe that?!" he laughed again, not even getting the slightest hint that I was sneaking slowly down the steps and over to the side of the couch.

"I tell you, the only good that wench was was to serve as a Guinea Pig, real shame she didn't die like we planned: should've made the wife have an abortion. I mean honestly, how many kids do YOU know that are born blue?! Oh well, the deeds done now anyway: can't help but wonder if they made her suffer as much as she deserves before they put the thing out of its misery." he said before hanging up after a few more irrelevant sentences as he finished his beer and made to stand from the couch, only to come face-to-face with my gloved fist: knocking him easily off his feet and into the brick fireplace a few feet away.

"What the fuck?!" he shouted in anger as he wiped the blood from his nose, only to freeze as I pounced on his chest and stared him in the eye. "How. Fucking. Dare. You?!" I snarled as he stared at me in a mixture of shock, fear, and anger as my body suit writhed and thrashed like a pot of boiling water. "YOU'RE the one who called them here?! You insensitive, filthy, disease-bearing, motherless, proxy GUTTERSHITE!" I screamed at him as multiple large, bladed tendrils that eerily-resembled Xenomorph tails grew from my body suit and thrashed around like a bunch of angry snakes.

"Sa-Saphira?! How-?!" he started as he tried to get out from under me, only to have me grip the front of his white shirt and gave him a solid shake: knocking the back of his head into the bricks of the cold fireplace with a dull 'crack'. "Everything that you've done, and everything you're going to do has given me more than enough reason to kill you in the most creative ways I could think of." I growled lowly as I changed my arms into the biomass claws, making raw terror erupt on his face as he tried harder to escape, before I used my tendrils to bind his arms and legs so he couldn't move at all.

"How does it feel, hmm? To be completely helpless against your captor as they did whatever they wanted to you?" I questioned with a sneer as I lifted a claw under his chin: the serrated metal tip lightly piercing his skin as my father couldn't even find words to fight back with: typical. "This is all your fault you know, if you hadn't given me to them in the first place, YOU wouldn't be at my mercy right now. I should just kill you." I said in an eerily-calm voice as he spat directly on my face, only to gulp nervously as I calmly wiped the disgusting liquid from my left cheek.

"But where would the satisfaction be if I simply did that? If anything, if I killed you: then you wouldn't know the true meaning of fear, now would you? Let's change that shall we?" I said murderously as I jumped off of him as used my tendrils to constrict him like a carnivorous plant, smirking cruelly as the bladed ends mercilessly bit through his clothes and into his skin. "NO Saphira! PLEASE! I'm sorry! It'll never happen again I swear, just LET ME GO!" he cried as he begged and pleaded for me to spare his worthless life. "You're right Father…it won't happen again." I said as I lifted him off his feet and carried his wriggling, struggling and cursing form through the house and out into the backyard.

Walking over to the tree, I watched as my biomass tendrils flipped my dad upside down and tied him to one of the branches like a giant piñata. Crossing my arms over my chest, I watched emotionlessly as he cursed me to hell and back as he tried to get down: only to cough and choke as the biomass tightened its grip on him, preventing him from moving anymore. "You brought this on yourself." I said as I snapped my fingers, splitting my face into an evil grin as a loud, ominous snarl echoed throughout the backyard, freezing my dad's attempts to escape instantly.

"Sa-Saphira, what the fuck was that?!" he stuttered as fear consumed his cruel and abusive form as the sound was an exact replica as the snarl of a Hunter from Left for Dead. "Oh, just a…friend of mine: one that would be VERY happy to meet you." I said as the growls and snorts continued to scare the pitiful excuse for a man hanging from the tree. "Though, if you're really that anxious to say 'Hello', take a look on the roof." I said as he did just that: where the screams of fear and desperation returned tenfold as the Alpha Hunter deliberately crawled down the face of the house in a slow pace like a spider, drooling and licking its chops the entire time as the fading sunlight reflected off its giant, metal claws and drool-stained teeth.

"Have fun, but keep your claws and teeth to yourself." I said to it as I gave my petrified father a sweet, childish grin and a friendly wave before pulling my hood up, turned around, and walked away: feeling satisfied and achieved that the man who wanted me dead from the start was finally getting what he deserved. 'Ah, that's better, now onto objective number two.' I thought happily as I took off running full-sprint through the darkening streets towards Walgreens, where my bat-like sonar told me a certain vigilante stood waiting. By the time I had reached the store in question, the streetlights had already come on and the sun had just about disappeared behind the mountains.

'This is it.' I thought with a sigh before I sprinted up the slightly-burned and bullet-riddled wall and silently perched on top of an AC unit like I had what felt like forever ago. As I somberly watched the vigilante, I noticed he was extremely on edge: and he had every right, especially with people like Gentek and Blackwatch hanging around and stalking the streets. Taking in his appearance, it seemed as if he hadn't slept for days with the way he was hunched over and used his cape as a kind of blanket to block out the worst of the icy wind.

Biting my lip, I kicked a pebble with my foot, causing him to instantly tense and whirl around in a defensive stance. "We really should stop meeting like this." I said as he straightened at the sound of my voice before crossing his arms over his chest. "That would be best: wouldn't want to accidentally mistake you for a threat." he replied as I walked over and stood by him and took in the apocalyptic state the town found itself in. "I'm sorry Mysterion." I said, watching his icy-blue eyes flick over to me out of the corner of my eye. "This is all my fault: if I hadn't disobeyed my father's demands: hell, if I had never even come here, this place wouldn't be at Blackwatch's mercy." I continued as I stared at what was left of the town, only to turn to the vigilante as I felt a stern hand grip my shoulder.

"If they were searching for you like you said, then this would've happened anyway. It's actually starting to annoy me how much you blame yourself for what goes on around you: you didn't have a choice or a way to defend yourself at the time. I understand it's hard to live with a curse, but you have friends who will stand by you to help you: if you took the time to let them in instead of fighting all the battles yourself." he said seriously as he reached over and smacked me upside my head, making me laugh and the dark cloud disappeared from above my head. "I'll try Mysterion." I said as he looked me over before nodding, seemingly satisfied with my answer. 'May as well do it now.' I thought as I sucked in a breath of cold air before gripping the item I hid in my pocket.

Turning to him, I took his hand and pulled the item out of my pocket and placed it in his olive-green glove. Taking my hand back, I watched his brow furrow in confusion as he stared at the glossy-black paint of the Xenomorph blade. "What's this for?" he questioned as he moved his stare from the blade to me, head cocking to the side slightly in confusion. "To protect you." I said as he looked as if he wanted to refuse the gift as he shook his head in a hopeless manner. "I told you a hundred times I can't die: why bother giving this to me?" he said, making a twinge of hurt flash through my chest before I made his fingers curl around the savage blade.

"If not to protect yourself, then use it to protect others. I may not be able to help all the time if you get yourself cornered, and even though you keep telling me you can't die: at least now you have something to remember me by." I said as his head shot up as he glared at me with an analyzing stare as that trademark scowl appeared on his face. "What do you mean by that?!" he snapped as he gripped both my shoulders tightly and stared me harshly in the eye. "I'm the reason Blackwatch and Gentek are here, Mysterion: I feel like it's my job to put an end to it and make them go away." I explained as his eyes widened a fraction of an inch before his eyes hardened until they resembled glass.

"No, absolutely not. I may not like it: but you and I are partners, you shouldn't have to do this on your own! I already promised I would protect you: let me help you now: since I failed to keep you safe from getting caught and who knows what else, let alone find you afterwards!" he snarled in a way that made me pause: as if he was BEGGING me to see his reasoning and let him redeem himself, like he had something to prove. 'That's awfully sweet of him, too bad I'm the only one who can set this right.' I thought as I smiled at him before stepping forward and engulfing him in a hug, shocking the vigilante to the point where he stood frozen as I wrapped my arms around him.

"Thank you Mysterion, that really means a lot to know you care that much." I said as I felt him return the hug, unknowingly letting me feel how powerful he was, regardless if he was only nine years old: he had the heart of a soldier. "So, does this mean you'll stay?" he asked hopefully in that rough voice of his as he pulled back enough to stare me in the eye. Feeling tears well up in my eyes, I knew Mysterion figured out my decision as he pulled me back in and refused to let go of me this time. "I'm sorry Mysterion, but you and I both know I'm the only one that can set this right." I mumbled through the fabric of his shirt as his arms tightened their grip around my waist and shoulders without a word.

For several minutes we stood this way under the stars and Northern Lights of the Colorado sky, until I glanced up at my partner and friend through the beak of my glowing hood. "I have a request to make." I said as he glanced down with a carefully neutral expression on his face, though I could sense he was feeling anything but neutral at the moment. "Anything." he said as he hugged me tighter, as if I would vanish into the wind at any second, never to be seen again. "Watch over Alex for me? I know I've been a pretty awful sister to him, but everything that I've done I did to protect him. But, if I fail my mission: tell him I'm sorry I never was able to be the sister he wanted me to be." I said as he swallowed harshly before reluctantly nodding, agreeing to my request earnestly.

"Thank you." I said as I gave him a tighter hug of my own before smiling at him, drawing a tiny smirk out of him in return. It was then he did something I definitely did NOT expect of him: he leaned forward and rested his forehead on my own and shut his eyes with a pained look on his face. That look made my insides hurt, but I was confident he would be alright: he was the town's superhero after all. 'This could be seen as the most cliché moment ever, but fuck it: may as well call it 'Heat of the Moment' since this is exactly what it is.' I thought before I tilted my head up and planted a soft kiss to the side of his partially-exposed face, dangerously-close to the corner of his mouth.

That small action startled the hero into letting go of me and stared at me with a bewildered expression on his face. Smirking softly at his look, I almost laughed as his mind registered what just happened as his face slowly matched the color of my glowing body suit and I knew I had an equally vivid blush on my face too. Using his shock as an opportunity, I stepped away from him and perched on the side of the building that had already held so many memories of the two of us. "Trying to catch fireflies Mysterion?" I teased as he snapped his mouth shut and discretely put a glove on the spot I planted the sweet act of kindness.

"W-Why did you do that?" he stuttered as he tried to compose himself back to his serious persona as I looked at his furiously blushing face humorously. "Isn't the Hero supposed to get the girl?" I questioned sarcastically as he gulped before glancing at his boots, making me crack up laughing at his sudden, and out of character, shyness. Pushing the teasing aside, I waited for him to look at me again before I stared at him with a determined look. "Take care of yourself Mysterion." I said and I swore I saw his eyes fill with unshed tears as he stared back at me as I perched like a gargoyle on the side of the shadowed building.

"D-Don't go." he stuttered, and that's when I knew he actually WAS trying not to cry: making me feel horrible, but if I was going to save this town: this had to be done. "Axios." I said as I stood up and prepared myself for the Leap of Faith I was about to take. "What does that mean?" he questioned with a watery tone as his gravel-like voice mixed with the sadness hidden underneath.

"It's a Roman battle phrase, it means 'I am worthy'. I consider myself lucky to have made such wonderful friends after so much suffering I had endured. Which is why I leave you with such a word, so that we might go back to fighting drunks and exposing drug cartels someday soon." I said with a proud nod and a grin before I turned around and leapt forward: letting the virus do my bidding as I flew free toward the place where either everything would end, or begin anew as I left my most-trusted friend and hero behind.

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